Sunday, November 24, 2013

The 3 - November 24, 2013

In this week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, I want to take a look at tragedy adversely affecting the campus of Liberty University in Virginia, which would not doubt have a devastating impact on students.  Also, a pro-life initiative in Albuquerque went down to defeat, but was still heartening to supporters.  And, it was a week of commemorations - including the 50th anniversary of the deaths of John F. Kennedy and C.S. Lewis, and the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

3 - Shooting at Christian university causes alarm, concern

Liberty University, the school founded by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, and whose main campus is in Lynchburg, Virginia, was hit by a series of tragedies this past week.  According to The Christian Post,
early Tuesday morning, 19-year-old student Joshua Hathaway was shot and killed by a school security guard.  As the school's community was learning the details of incident, Jerry Falwell Jr., the current chancellor of Liberty, informed students that the twin brother of a current Liberty student was killed in a car crash.  A day after Hathaway was shot, a current student attempted suicide.

Grant Leasure, a senior at the school and its newspaper's editor-in-chief told the Post that, "People are in shock about all of the serious things that have happened involving Liberty."

A day after Hathaway's death, Colby Tallafuss, a resident assistant (RA) in the building where the slain student had lived, described the campus mood as "somber" and "introspective" and said that the incident had shaken his collegiate "aura of invincibility."

A search warrant was sought this past week by city police Detective Collin Byrne and filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court, stating that Hathaway allegedly violently turned on a security officer after informing the officer that he had been robbed of his vehicle.

"The security officer then began to investigate Hathaway's complaint but Hathaway then pulled out a hammer from his clothing and assaulted the officer," it stated.

WORLD reports that Falwell thanked the support Liberty has had from Lynchburg police, as well as from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and presidents of other colleges, who offered prayers and services. He said that counselors had been made available to students.

Falwell stated, “It’s events like this where we feel like it’s our duty as a Christian university to pull together and to support everybody as much as possible."

Liberty is the largest evangelical nonprofit university in the nation.

2 - Albuquerque voters defeat proposed ordinance banning late-term abortion

This past week, voters in Albuquerque, New Mexico went to the polls to consider a ban on abortions after 20 weeks gestation, a point at which research has shown that an unborn child can feel pain.  According to, voters in the city defeated the nation’s first city-wide ban on late-term abortions. The reported final tallies are around 55-45% against the ban.

This comes at the conclusion of a monumental battle that saw national pro-life groups and abortion supporters engage in a furious fight in the state. Some pro-life advocates are asserting the results are something of a moral victory because Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates were forced to spend $1 million or more on defending late-term abortions, though pro-life groups also spent considerable sums of more meager resources.

The loss came at the same time the Texas law to limit abortions — which has already closed or halted abortions at numerous abortion clinics — won a victory at the Supreme Court, as it refused to hear the appeal of a Federal appeals court decision not to halt the Texas law banning abortion at 20 weeks from going into effect. 

LifeNews speculates that the results may go to show that focusing on electing pro-life candidates and passing pro-life laws in Congress and state legislatures, rather than ballot measures, are the more successful route to stopping abortions.

1 - Significant anniversaries explore faith connections (Gettysburg, Kennedy, Lewis)

This week brought the commemoration of several notable events from history - on Tuesday, the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was observed, and on Friday, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was noted in a number of ways, from a ceremony in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, where the tragic event took place, to an online replay of the CBS broadcast of the President's death.

And, somewhat overshadowed was the observance of an event that has some enhanced meaning for Christians, the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis, who authored The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, and The Screwtape Letters.  WORLD reports that Westminster Abbey in London remembered Lewis by adding a memorial to him in Poets' Corner, the burial place of Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, and numerous other famous British writers.

The memorial stone in Poets' Corner lies in tribute to Lewis’ life, faith, and work, bearing one of the author’s most quotable lines: “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen. Not only because I can see it but because by it I can see everything else.”

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, a great fan of Lewis, gave the main address at the ceremony to unveil the stone before 1,000 guests.

The weight of the Gettysburg Address was underscored by historian Ken Burns' Learn the Address Initiative encouraging people to memorize Lincoln's speech delivered at the National Cemetery that day.   Burns enlisted the assistance of former Presidents, the current President, and celebrities.   The inclusion of the words, "under God" in the speech became a topic of discussion after those words were omitted by Mr. Obama in his recording.  Burns' website and the White House say that the President was quoting from an earlier draft of the speech which did not include the words.

The Daily Caller points out that the draft most often taught to American school children — and listed on Ken Burns’ website as the preferred draft for the video project — is the Bliss Copy, which says:
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” (emphasis mine)
Historians do believe that Lincoln honed the address in later drafts after he delivered it, but there is little disagreement about whether Lincoln uttered the words “under God” when he spoke at Gettysburg.

“Every stenographic report, good, bad and indifferent, says ‘that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom,’” wrote historian William E. Barton.  “There was no common source from which all the reporters could have obtained those words but from Lincoln’s own lips at the time of delivery.”

And, while the commemoration of Kennedy's death did not generate a great deal of coverage or emotion in the Christian media that I follow, we still cannot ignore the impact of that day in Dallas some 50 years ago on the trajectory of our nation of that day in Dallas.  There were some faith components that intersected the work and life of Kennedy.  Kennedy's Catholic faith had been an issue in the 1960 campaign in which he was elected, and an issue in which he was deeply involved - the civil rights cause - was heavily influenced by faith leaders.

Kennedy had met and talked with Billy Graham on occasion, although accounts seem to indicate that Graham may not have been as close to Kennedy as some of the other Presidents to which he ministered, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times, which recounts that in 1963, “Sometime toward the end of the second week in November, I unaccountably felt such a burden about the presidential visit to Dallas that I decided to phone our mutual friend, Senator Smathers, to tell him I really wanted to talk to the President...all I wanted to tell him and the President was one thing: ‘Don’t go to Texas!’ I had an inner foreboding that something terrible was going to happen.”

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